And then we got the MacRecorder...

January 1990 was the time to learn how to make better stacks. The first step was getting the MacRecorder Sound System. I decided to try it out, and learn some other new tricks, by making an interactive birthday card for my brother. note

The Mackerel Stack 1.5

We watched people use the prototype. We researched stack techniques. We brainstormed. Then we got right back to it. The stack project now had a real sense of urgency, because we knew how to make it better.

Sound takes up a lot of space, so we could not go overboard with the MacRecorder. We enlisted our colleague, Peter Gmehling, to create a series of instrument samples for us. After we had stack-tested note and shortlisted the sounds from Peter, we ended up with about nine instruments and an interesting percussion kit to work with, in under 50k. That left us another 30k for voice samples like Holy Mackerel!

Version 1.0 worked best where it was more conversational. It seemed a bit obvious once we noticed it. Ditch the long animations. Make more conversations. Every click means it’s our turn in the conversation.

We kept many screen layouts, and made more like ones we kept. note

Short animations were used for screen to screen transitions, and to lead the eye to important details. Animations were synced to short musical phrases. And now we had rim shots for some of our jokes. note

We started giving out new stacks in August of 1990. They went like hot-cakes. We continued to tweak it for a year, making incrementally better releases. There was even a Japanese release! note

The stack really got around; people actively shared it. There were sightings of it on BBSes around the world.

Very few people cared much about the portfolio section, except to click around it for fun. When people called us they were more interested in the stack than print design services. We got the hint and put interactive media on our business cards.

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